Wednesday, April 24, 2013

NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings for 2013

NHL Central Scouting has released their final rankings for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Here's how the OHL shakes down.


1. Darnell Nurse
2. Sean Monahan
3. Zach Nastasiuk
4. Chris Bigras
5. Bo Horvat
6. Ryan Hartman
7. Kerby Rychel
8. Max Domi
9. Jimmy Lodge
10. Nikita Zadorov
11. Jason Dickinson
12. Justin Bailey
13. Jordan Subban
14. Nick Moutrey
15. Nicholas Baptiste
16. Ryan Kujawinski
17. Remi Elie
18. Dakota Mermis
19. Greg Betzold
20. Ben Harpur
21. Carter Verhaeghe
22. Kyle Platzer
23. Jeff Corbett
24. Sergei Tolchinsky
25. Cole Cassels
26. Josh Burnside
27. Nick Paul
28. Brent Pedersen
29. Stephen Harper
30. Daniel Nikandrov
31. Dominik Kubalik
32. Cameron Brace
33. Erik Bradford
34. Zach Leslie
35. Miles Liberati
36. Hunter Garlent
37. Zach Hall
38. Brody Silk
39. Tyler Ganly
40. Josh Brown
41. Henri Ikonen
42. Jean Dupuy
43. Anthony DiFruscia
44. Stephen Nosad
45. Tyler Bertuzzi


1. Spencer Martin
2. Michael Giugovaz
3. Jordan DeKort
4. Jake Patterson
5. Frank Palazzese
6. Charlie Graham
7. Jacob Blair

Here are the links to the full rankings:


Some thoughts on the rankings...

  • First thing that shocked me was the aggressiveness with Nastasiuk's ranking. Quite frankly, I like it. I've been a big supporter of the kid since he joined the league and he was amazing the final few months of the season (and has continued that on to the Under 18's). He's firmly in my top 10 for the league too.
  • Also continue to be surprised by Zadorov's low ranking. CSS seems to be the only place ranking him that low. I haven't been incredibly impressed with his play in the 2nd half, but he's still firmly a first round talent IMO. But...they've been low on him all season long.
  • The lack of Alex Fotinos in the goaltenders category is still shocking. ISS has him ranked quite highly (in the top 10), while CSS doesn't even feel the need to rank him. Very odd and silly IMO. Fotinos is a solid goaltender and prospect and deserves to be ranked...ahead of a few of those OHL goaltenders IMO.
  • Stephen Harper continues to free fall. Was talked about as a first rounder to start the year and now he's being ranked by Central Scouting as a possible 4th/5th round selection. It's deserving, but I still feel bad for him.
  • The ranking of the "overagers" is a tad odd to me. IMO, the two top re-entry candidates available from the OHL are Justin Auger and Eric Locke. And neither of them are ranked, while a handful of others (some very deserving too) are. Strikes me as odd.
  • Outside of that, I don't think they're all that bad, even if they may be a tad shocking to some.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

OHL Playoff Predictions: Conference Finals

The 2013 Conference Finals are set to begin tomorrow night. Time to take a look at the match-ups.

Throughout the first two rounds, I'm 10-2 on my predictions. Let's keep the good times going.


1. Belleville Bulls vs. 2. Barrie Colts
Season Series: 1-1 TIE
My Analysis: Honestly, both of these Conference finals set up to be terrific match-ups. Both the Bulls and the Colts ran over their second round opponents. In fact, the Colts have yet to lose a game in these playoffs, despite losing their captain, Ryan O'Connor, to a 10 game suspension. O'Connor will be eligible to return Game 5 (should there be one). It's hard to find a match-up discrepancy between these two squads. Both teams have been terrific on special teams. Both teams have been getting sensational goaltending. Both teams are putting the puck in the net and getting scoring from all lines. So how do we predict a winner? I'm going on a gut instinct here. While both teams have good size up front and some physicality from the forward position, I like Barrie's larger and more physical defense more than Belleville's. I think the Bulls will have a harder time scoring than Barrie and if this series goes long (which I think it will), the Colts will get an emotional lift from O'Connor's return in game 5.
Prediction: Barrie in 6


1. London Knights vs. 2. Plymouth Whalers
Season Series: 3-1 London
My Analysis: You can throw London's dominance in the season series out the window. These teams haven't met since 2012 (Dec. 29), and anyone who covers the OHL can tell you how much better the Whalers look in 2013. They're a significantly more confident team since the new year. Bottom line, London hasn't played the Vincent Trocheck version of the Whalers. Goaltending is going to be a big factor in this series. Stolarz and Nedeljkovic have both been fairly solid for their respective teams thus far. But, neither has been perfect. Let us not forget that both are OHL rookies. Going against the offensive firepower both team's possess will be a big test for both goalies. I think the other big factor (possibly in swaying the series in Plymouth's favor) has been London's lackluster special teams play this offseason. In particular, their powerplay just isn't running on all cylinders right now. I absolutely can't wait to watch this series. Again, I'm going with a gut instinct, and that's Plymouth.
Prediction: Plymouth in 7

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Top 10 - Most Impressive 1996 Born Players

 One of the many annual traditions I have on this blog is to rank the new batch of OHL rookies in order of the impression they left on me. Only the "true" OHL rookies have been included, thus why it's labeled the "Most Impressive 1996 born players." However, with the whole exceptional status thing, this means that Aaron Ekblad is going to be included in this group (because he was born in 1996). It also means that Connor McDavid is not going to be included in this list. I will describe the impression he left on me though.

I always like to note is that this isn't an early ranking for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. This ranking isn't the order in which I believe these players should be ranked for the draft, but an order of which players impressed me most. It's not a draft prognostication, it's an acknowledgment of the significant impact these players have had on their teams this season.

As mentioned, this is a tradition, so here are the previous year's lists. 1995's. 1994's. 1993's. 1992's.

10. Josh Ho-Sang - Windsor Spitfires
Ho-Sang certainly flashed moments of brilliance this year. He has an incredibly high skill level, which was apparent to anyone who watched him play in junior. Skating and ability to handle the puck are above average. At times this year, he was the best player on the ice, but he just wasn't able to keep up that consistency. There are definitely some things he needs to work on moving forward. I felt like he had trouble fighting through checks to get himself into good scoring position. I also felt like he overhandled the puck at times and was turnover prone. But he certainly showed enough offensive potential this season to make this list. It will be interesting to see what an offseason dedicated to strength training will do to make him a better player in his sophomore campaign.

9. Dante Salituro - Ottawa 67's
Salituro is like the little engine who could. He's little but he works his butt off. It was certainly hard to stick out in a positive way in Ottawa this year, but Salituro often did that. Regardless of the score, he was in there on the forecheck or trying to fight through checks with the puck. I was particularly impressed with his vision and ability to create scoring chances for his linemates. He looks like he's going to be a very good OHL player and a great running mate for Travis Konecny next season. Even though he's little, Salituro is already pretty solidly built, kind of similar to Max Domi, so I'm not really worried about stature preventing him from making a larger impact.

8. Roland McKeown - Kingston Frontenacs
I think most people will be surprised to see McKeown as low as he is on this list. First the positive. McKeown played massive minutes for a 16 year old this year and was a massive part of Kingston's half decent season. I really liked his decision making ability with the puck and he's clearly a very intelligent player. Now the negative. Every time I saw Kingston play this year, he made a few critical defensive mistakes. In particular, I noticed he was quite susceptible to getting beat off the rush, with players being able to take him to the outside. He had some trouble winning battles in the corners and tying up men in front of the net too. But, I think it's important to remember that McKeown was a rookie playing a lot of minutes, so he was bound to get overmatched at times. He's definitely got a ton of potential and is looking like a potential lottery selection next year. It's just that I had several other 16 year olds make a more profound impact on me this year.

7. Alex Nedeljkovic - Plymouth Whalers
The first goalie to crack this list since JP Anderson. It's pretty damn rare to have a 16 year old goalie have the type of impact Nedeljkovic has had. He stole the starter's job away from NHL draft pick, and 19 year old Matt Mahalak and never looked back. Sure, the Whalers are a great team. But it wasn't really until Nedeljkovic took over that the team really started to play well. His consistency in the crease gave Plymouth a new found confidence. He's not perfect, but he does a great job of squaring to shooters and reacting to the play. I can't seem to recall the last rookie goaltender to lead his team to a Memorial Cup victory, which is something Nedeljkovic has a chance to do.

6. Spencer Watson - Kingston Frontenacs
The trigger man on one of the most underrated lines in the OHL this year with fellow rookie (and another guy on this list) Sam Bennett and import Henri Ikonen. Watson impressed with his pure ability to create offense. Without the puck, he did well to get himself in scoring position and has a terrific shot already. With the puck, he's very elusive and has the stickhandling ability to create off the rush. It's clear he needs to get stronger, which is no surprise. Too often was he pushed off the puck in the offensive end this year. And he relied on Bennett and Ikonen to do most of the grunt work in the corners. But his skill level and production this year was very impressive.

5. Michael Dal Colle - Oshawa Generals
Big powerful forward who looks to have some power forward potential in the league. I understand that he's a natural center who played the wing this year. It'll be interesting to see if he goes back to center next year, especially with Jenner gone and Scott Laughton potentially in the NHL. I was really impressed with Dal Colle's ability to protect the puck and create scoring chances off the wall. He definitely did not look like a rookie this year. I think the one thing I'm interested in seeing next year, is just how much his nasty side takes off. He was occasionally physical this year and I think that growth in that area of his game will be key to his development.

4. Jared McCann - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Got better and better as the season went on. Heck, he finished out the year with 16 points in his last 9 games, before being knocked out of the OHL playoffs from a hit by Cameron Brace. Hopefully there aren't any lingering concussion issues at play here. A couple of things really impressed me with McCann. The first was his strong two-way play and ability to excel on the penalty kill (especially later in the season). He's going to be a very strong two-way player at the next level. Another thing was his skating ability. A terrific skater who can really get himself up the ice quickly on the breakout. McCann has the potential be the complete package.

3. Sam Bennett - Kingston Frontenacs
Bennett is an incredibly entertaining player to watch. He's one of those high energy guys who always seems to be involved in the play. He's actually got some real pest like qualities to him. He's quite physical and is very involved on the forecheck and in the corners. He and Henri Ikonen did great to work the cycle this year. He may not be big, but Bennett is very slippery and OHL defenseman had a tough time containing him on most nights. I also really liked the way Bennett created offense off the rush. He's got really underrated skill with the puck and made many a defenseman whiff this season. With added strength this offseason, I can't wait to see him play next year (and I hope he sticks with the Under 18 team currently).

2. Blake Clarke - Brampton Battalion
I was so impressed with Clarke this year. Big guy, but massive offensive potential. He's got terrific hands and can really carry the puck. Is definitely most dangerous off the rush where his size, skating ability, and skill with the puck make him incredibly difficult to contain. I actually was really impressed with his vision and ability to create for his linemates. Not just a, "put the head down and drive to the net" kind of forward. He uses that size to get close and the playmaking ability to find open teammates. Could be a real total package offensive player. Best of all, as the season went on, Clarke became more confident in throwing the body around and showed signs of becoming a physical player. I hope that continues to grow.

1. Aaron Ekblad - Barrie Colts
A beast, plain and simple. Ekblad was the best defenseman on one of the top teams in the league this year. He's also been fantastic so far in the playoffs, especially since Barrie has been missing captain Ryan O'Connor due to suspension. He took massive steps forward this year as a defensive player. Most of that was due to the fact that he became more physical and much more difficult to play against. Because of his size, reach, physicality, and agility, Ekblad is one of the toughest defenders to beat one on one in the league. Offensively, I felt like his breakout pass and ability to start the rush improved this year, as did his confidence on the point on the powerplay. The sky is the limit for this young man.

Honorable Mentions

Brandon Prophet - Saginaw Spirit
Prophet looks to have the makings of a really solid two-way defenseman. Was sheltered a bit in Saginaw this year, but in the ice time he did see, I was impressed with his composure with the puck and ability to start the breakout. I also liked his positioning defensively and occasional glimpses of physical play. Definitely a keeper.

Aaron Haydon - Niagara IceDogs
Was really starting to play well before he suffered that broken jaw in February. When Dougie Hamilton left the Niagara line up, Haydon started to gain more confidence offensively and began to take chances leading the rush. He even started to see some time with the man advantage. For a bigger defender, he seems to move quite well and his skill with the puck and ability to generate off the rush are areas with a lot of potential. And at his size, he's obviously got a lot of potential in his own end too, when he learns to play more physical and use his size.

Jacob Middleton - Ottawa 67's
I was actually most impressed by Middleton at the Under 17's, where I felt he was Ontario's best defenseman (even more so than Aaron Ekblad). In the OHL, he had some injury issues this year and at times looked a bit overmatched. In particular, his positioning defensively is something that stuck out for the wrong reasons at times. But he showed enough at both ends of the ice to suggest he could be a very good defender at this level. In particular, I liked how willing he was to engage physically.

Ben Hughes - Niagara IceDogs
Scored his only goal of the year in the playoffs, but I felt like every time I saw Niagara play, he made the most of his limited ice time. Hughes was one of the youngest players in the league, but he didn't show it. I liked his ability to play both ends of the ice and work hard without the puck. He seems to have some good instincts and I think that if he gets increased ice time next year, he could be someone who really impresses.

Joe Manchurek - Oshawa Generals
Only played 5 games in the OHL this year, but he made his mark in those 5 games. I saw him play two of those, one live and he showed a lot of promise. Was in there on the forecheck, winning battles along the boards and flashed some skill with the puck. I think he could be a big part of Oshawa's offense next season.

Special Honorable Mention

Connor McDavid - Erie Otters
I'm not including McDavid on this list, just as I didn't include Ekblad on last year's list. If I did include McDavid, he'd be number one over Ekblad, I was THAT impressed with him this year. His skating ability and stickhandling ability are electrifying. He was making 4 year OHL veteran defenseman look like pylons at times. His vision and ability to create for linemates is also incredible. Yes, he faded towards the end of the season. I think that was to be expected. It was also due to the fact that Erie significantly cut his icetime to prevent fatigue related injury. Next season, he'll be back stronger and better. Can he challenge for the scoring race next year? I guess we'll find out!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

OHL Priority Draft Review Q & A with Sean Lafortune

I have to admit. My knowledge of the minor midget ranks goes as far as the material I read and hear. I only really get a chance to see these players at the OHL Cup, and even then it's not all of them and it's a tiny sample size. So writing an OHL Priority Draft review makes little sense for me to do.

So, I decided to talk to someone who IS an expert in the area. Blog friend Sean Lafortune is one of the most knowledge people on the planet when it comes to covering the OHL Priority Draft. His website,, is an absolutely fantastic resource when it comes to reading about the OHL's future players. Sean was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the draft and I think it serves as a miniature review.


Brock Otten - I know you're a big fan of Sean Day (had him ranked first), so perhaps you can shed some light as to why he fell to 4th overall? How much do you expect him to contribute next year for the Steelheads?

Sean Lafortune - Sean Day was without a doubt our top player for the draft this year. We did our homework on Day in order to ensure that we got our rankings correct. I traveled down to Detroit to see him upwards of 5 times this season, in addition to the views that we had of him at Whitby Silver Stick in November, when the mainstream media took hold of the Sean Day story. I'm not sure if there are any other independent guys who can say that.

For us, his talents are unique. His footwork and skating ability are unmatched. He has the ability to be an impact player at both ends of the ice. He's innovative in possession, showing an ability to either impact the game with a sizzling outlet or flashing his slick in close skills. He would routinely impose his will on the opposition in our viewings. No doubt he needs to work on his decision making in all three zones, but the tools that he possesses are unmatched.

It's an interesting situation. Over the course of the year I had many conversations about Day with some of my peers in the OHL, all of them suggesting he's one of the most talented players they have seen in recent years. One GM that I talked with thought that if granted exceptional status, Sean would be at the top of his draft board. That obviously was not the case for everyone however, as three teams passed on him.

My guess, and it's only a guess, is that seeing that Sean was the first 'Exceptional Status' player who was playing in the US, teams hadn't seen him play all year long. All previous exceptional status players played in Ontario, allowing us to see them upwards of 30 times a year. With Sean, we only saw him play 5 or 6 games. For teams that are drafting in the top 4, they need to be 100 percent convinced that their pick is their player. For some reason, those teams were not, but at the end of the day, Sean will be in the league next season, so he has the opportunity, which was all he wanted.

My expectations are that Day will play top 4 minutes this year and develop, much like what we witnessed from Aaron Ekblad in his rookie season in Barrie. He's not a player that we can judge based on points, his progression will be judged by how he adjusts to the league. We hope to see him improve his awareness and make better decisions offensively. He's going to a great program, as James Boyd will be able to teach him system based hockey while allowing him to still develop the offensive side of his game. It's going to be fun to watch.

Brock Otten - Your 2nd rated player, defenseman Zach Werenski, fell to London in the 2nd round (24th) because of U.S. Development program commitments. Can London get him to report?

Sean Lafortune - Heading into the draft, I was pretty open that the London Knights had the ability to be somewhat selective and take a more aggressive approach this weekend. They have such a deep group of prospects in the 95 and 96 groups that in reality, they had nothing to lose this weekend. Werenski is without a doubt the best 97 drafted this weekend, and one of the best 97's in North America. He has the ability to be a top 4 defender right away, and there are suggestions that the US-NTDP will be looking to play him with the U18 program right away.

Do I think he will commit? I do, but probably not until he's 18. In the history of the US NDTP, very few players have left the program early, and I doubt that Werenski makes the commitment without the intention to do so. I think this will be a situation where Werenski fulfills his obligations to the US NTDP before heading to London post NHL Draft. Could he come earlier? I'm sure he could, but I would be surprised, as he has been heavily courted by OHL teams all year, but still committed to the program. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Brock Otten - Outside of Werenski, who do you think were the biggest steals of the draft?

Sean Lafortune - I think there were some extremely intelligent selections this weekend. The Plymouth Whalers may have pulled off the biggest 'steal' of the draft with the selection of Jordan Greenway. The Potsdam, NY native measures in at 6'5/200 and has that raw ability that not many in this draft class possesses. I didn't get as many opportunities to see him this year as I would have liked, given that he plays in Minnesota at the famed Shattuck St. Mary's program, but all year long I had excellent reports on him. He has the rare combination of size, mobility and puck skills that make him a real appealing option. Now he is reported to be committed to the US NTDP, but we'll see how that situation plays out. At worst, it could be a Brandon Saad like situation where a team waits two years on a prospect.

I loved the 67's selection of Troy Henley at the top of the 2nd. He's a two way defender that has the ability to positively impact the game at both ends of the ice. Continuing to mature as a puck mover, displaying improved poise and decision-making ability. Plays a mean, aggressive game and is not afraid to throw his frame around. Unloads menacing open ice hits, displaying a unique mix of aggression, courage and power. We had him rated 17th overall, with 5-6 US based players ahead of him. Can't say I thought he would be available past 15, but his slight fall is a gain for the 67's.

Cameron Lizotte is another name that was talked about as a mid first round pick.  Is a patient defender who effectively manages gap-control. He is swift and agile in all directions, propelled by his long, powerful skating stride and good footwork.  He is one of the hardest one on one players in the age group. Frustrates with his ability to suffocate creativity from opposition forwards. The fact that he was a available in the slot he was, was a big win for the Petes.

Sudbury's 3rd and 4th round selections, David Zeppieri and Austin Clapham (teammates with the Mississauga Rebels), were considered top 30 candidates and were strong picks for where they were selected. Saginaw made three astute selections with Jackson Bales (Brampton 45s), Christian Rajic (Mississauga Rebels) and Matthew Scott (Greater Kingston Frontenacs) in the mid to late rounds. All three have the ability to be 3-4 year OHL players, and would provide excellent value if they reach their ceiling as players.

Brock Otten - Which team(s) do you feel had the best draft? Who are the winners?

Sean Lafortune - Its a tough question for me to answer because as good as any draft looks on paper, the proof is in the pudding. Every year, players who were drafted in the mid rounds prove that they were overlooked and become valuable OHL players. Until we know who those players are, we can't really call anyone a winner.

One thing that we can do though is look at strategy. I loved how aggressive London was. When you look at their selections, they took a mix of Ontario based players but also took intelligent risks on players who may or may not report. Guys like Werenski, Evers and Tkachuk have the potential to be front line OHL players, and to select them and 'roll the dice' so to speak was an excellent strategy.

Kitchener took the same strategy, as they made intelligent 'risk' selections with guys like Bracco, Opilka and Henderson. Fans may complain that London, Kitchener and other teams are always the ones who get these players, well guess why, they are the ones who take the risks.

Brock Otten - Conversely, which team(s) were the losers of the draft, as in, which team's draft are you least impressed with?

Sean Lafortune - Until we take a look at how players progress, it's not really fair of me to suggest one team selected poorly. There were some selections that surprised me, but we have two years to see who did well and who did poorly.

Brock Otten - Last question Sean, if you had to guess the 3 players from this group who made make the biggest impact next year, who would they be? (and obviously they may not just be the top 3 drafted players as we've learned many times)

Sean Lafortune - As we always see in drafts, forwards will always have more of an impact than defenceman do. Defenceman generally take more time to adjust to the speed and responsibilities of the game.

Because of that, I think it's fair to say that the top two players selected will have the biggest impact next year. Travis Konecny is a high speed, high impact forward who combines strong compete level with elite puck skills. We'll have to see what happens in the Nation's capital with Sean Monahan, but with Dante Salituro having the year he has had and with other players like Andrew Abou Assaly expected to take more of a lead offensive role, look for Konecny to be a top 6 forward initially and carve an early niche.

Dylan Strome will be given every opportunity to succeed this year. My expectations are that he will be placed in an immediate top 6 forward position. Despite the record, the Otters have some good offensive depth, and being able to surround Strome with players like Harper, Fox, Brown or Cairns can help him be succeed. By no means do I expect a McDavid like impact, but he certainly has the potential to be one of the top rookies in 2013-2014.

Brett McKenzie strikes me as a player who will be in a perfect situation. McKenzie was the top offensive option for the OHL Cup champion Oakville Rangers last year, displaying intelligent two way play. He's a forward who possesses an interesting potential level. Given the success that players like Blake Clarke and Nick Paul had in their rookie seasons, I have a feeling that McKenzie will be put in similar positions to succeed. He will be positioned around players like Paul, Brandon Robinson and others who will put him in a position to be an impact rookie right away. 

I want to thank Sean again for answering those questions and giving my readers some great nuggets about the draft. Make sure you follow Sean on twitter (here), check out TheScout (here), and pick up a copy of the McKeen's Draft Guide (here), which Sean had a big hand in (as a scout for McKeens).

Saturday, April 6, 2013

2013 OHL Priority Draft Results

The OHL held its annual Priority selection today.

The results can be found here.

Welcome all the new talent to the league!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

2013 OHL Playoff Predictions: Round Two

The OHL second round kicks off tonight with Oshawa and Barrie doing battle, so that means it's time to breakdown the Conference semi-final match-ups.

I went 6-2 in round one, losing on Brampton and Sault Ste. Marie. If someone had told me Stan Butler would have been lost for the series early on, I would have went with Sudbury. No offense to Jason Ward and Ryan Oulahen, but Butler is the lifeblood of that franchise and without him they looked flat.

Here's the 2nd round breakdown:


1. Belleville Bulls vs. 5. Sudbury Wolves
Season Series: 3-1 Belleville
My Analysis: If Belleville wants to win this series, they're going to have to play a heck of a lot better than they did against Mississauga in the opening round. They looked soft and unengaged on a few of those nights and the pesky Steelheads took advantage of that. The Wolves are much more dangerous team, with a better goaltender to boot. That means the margin for error is even smaller. Belleville will need a more consistent effort from guys like Quine, Brassard, and Subban to advance to the next round. Meanwhile, Sudbury will need to continue to get great goaltending from Franky Palazzese. He was sensational in round one. Sudbury is also going to need a better effort from their penalty kill. Belleville can be deadly with the man advantage and Sudbury isn't going to survive a series where they can't stay out of the box.
Prediction: Belleville in 7

2. Barrie Colts vs. 3. Oshawa Generals
Season Series: 3-1 Barrie
My Analysis: Throw the season series out the window because these teams haven't met since January. This is going to be one heck of a series. Both teams finished off their first round foes fairly easily and have had some rest. The Colts will still be without Anthony Camara for game one, and without Ryan O'Connor for the whole series. I think Colts fans should definitely be concerned with the fact that the team's captain won't be able to play in the series, as the Generals firepower is going to test the defensive depth of the Colts. Luckily Barrie has been getting terrific goaltending from Niederberger all season long. I don't see that changing now and I think it's the difference in the series. Both teams have firepower up front so the goaltenders will be tested. And I'm taking Niederberger over Altshuller in a 7 game series that could see some "shoot em up" kind of games.
Prediction: Barrie in 6


1. London Knights vs. 4. Kitchener Rangers
Season Series: 4-2 London
My Analysis: This series is going to come down to John Gibson. I don't think there's any question that the Rangers don't have the firepower offensively to keep up with London. Depth wise, London trumps them. But Gibson is such a terrific goaltender and he was pretty damn good in round one. He has that series stealing ability. I still think that in order to really make a run, the Knights are going to need Scott Harrington back. It remains to be seen whether that's going to happen. Sit back and watch this one unfold. At the end of the day, I think London is just too deep for Kitchener to play with in a 7 game series. But it's going to be really close.
Prediction: London in 7

2. Plymouth Whalers vs. 3. Owen Sound Attack
Season Series: 2-2 TIE
My Analysis: I love the way Owen Sound plays the game. They work hard and they get the job done. No excuses. Jordan Binnington has been rgeat all season long and round one was no exception. But I think Plymouth is the team to beat this year. They do everything Owen Sound does (in terms of physicality, skill, determination), but they've got better depth and more skill up front. The wildcard here is goaltending from Plymouth's vantage point. They're currently relying on 17 year old rookie Alex Nedeljkovic. Thus far he's been up to the challenge, but Owen Sound is going to test him more than Sarnia did. It'll be interesting to see how he handles it.
Prediction: Plymouth in 5

As always, would love to read your predictions.